Delhi HC: Speed up oxygen supply to Capital

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 29, 2021

Family members of Covid-19 patients wait to fill empty oxygen cylinders in Gurugram, on Wednesday   -  Yogendra Kuma

Asks Centre, Delhi govt to file details on oxygen availability, reasons for deaths

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to urgently consider suggestions regarding optimisation of tanker usage and turnaround time for ferrying oxygen to the Capital which has fallen short by 100 tonnes in the midst of the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

“Not for a single day has Delhi received the required quantity,” said a division bench comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli who are hearing a plea concerning Covid-19 surge and shortage of oxygen supply in the Capital.

In a detailed order dictated by Justice Sanghi, the bench asked the Centre as also the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to apprise the Court of the efforts to iron out the logistical problems in oxygen supply and the casualties due to the shortage of oxygen.

The Court also asked the Centre to place on record by Friday the logistical issues in oxygen supply to Delhi and the efforts to iron them out.

Dialling up Armed Forces

The Court told the GNCTD to file a report, after ascertaining the details from hospitals and nursing homes, of the time of death and reasons for the death to be indicated in a tabular form. The Court directed the GNCTD to file an affidavit providing the status of liquid and gaseous oxygen and re-fillers in the Capital by Thursday morning.

The Court also asked the State and the Central Government to consider employing provisions in the rules of the Armed Forces for rendering of services in times of an emergency. “If a request is received from any State government with the approval of the Centre, the Armed Forces can be assigned under these provisions. Let the GNCTD examine this aspect and take appropriate steps,” said the Court.

The Court had told the Delhi Government that if it cannot manage the situation, the Central Government can be asked to take over. “Get your house in order. Enough is enough. If you can’t do it, tell us, we will ask the Central Government to take over. People are dying,” the Court had said.

“The allocation made by the Centre is 480 tonnes a day. Not for a single day Delhi has received the required quantity. The primary reason is that three of the suppliers are located at a distance of 1,600 kilometres. The Court requests the amicus curiae to study the allocation order issued by Union of India and if he has any suggestions in this regard to optimise the tanker usage and minimise the turnaround time, it should be communicated to Tushar Mehta since he has very graciously offered to have the same examined. Independent of that as well, we hope and expect the Central Government would look at the logistical problem. The Centre should place the record by Friday,” said the Court.

‘Insurance delay’

The Court said the delays in discharge due to delays in insurance formalities should be immediately addressed.

“One aspect that has been argued is in relation to the clearance of the cases by the third party agents representing the insurance companies. We are informed that at the time of discharge of patients after the covid treatment is over, the process of grant of no objection certificate by the TPAs is taking a delay of 5-6 hours. It delayed discharge and consequent admission of other patients. Such delays are bound to result in more suffering for patients. We therefore direct that all the insurance companies, and their TPAs to insure that the time taken to grant NOC is reduced so that such problems do not arise. This should be communicated to TPAs and insurance companies by GNCTD for compliance,” said the Court.

Published on April 28, 2021

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